Samsung turns to mobile phone fuel cells

Fuel cells have been one of the great undelivered IT promises in recent years, but this hasn't deterred Samsung from announcing plans to create mobile phones using the technology

Samsung believes that fuel cells could be the future of mobile phone power.

The South Korean manufacturer has signed a deal with a US-based fuel cell firm, MTI MicroFuel Cells. Under the agreement, the two companies will spend the next 18 months developing methanol-based fuel cells that could be used in mobile handsets.

In theory, methanol-powered fuel cells could provide more hours of power than a standard mobile phone battery. However, the technology is not yet commercially viable. A slew of companies have been showing off prototype fuel cells for laptops over the last few years, but none have made the leap to the mass market.

Fuel cells will also need to be regularly topped up with fresh methanol, which could deter consumers from embracing them.

Despite this, Samsung claims that fuel cells may be the solution to the problem of powering the feature-rich, power-hungry mobile devices of tomorrow.

"By allying with MTI Micro, Samsung is empowered to go beyond the established boundaries of what is currently possible with mobile phone design and functionality," said Young Woo Lee, vice-president of Samsung, in a statement.